The Smorgasbord of Symptoms and the Prescription Cornucopeia: Part 2
(If You Haven’t Already Read Part 1, click here)
When the Cure is Worse Than the Disease
I understand there will be some who might think that it was crazy to stop taking the prescription medications. What I might have left unclear is that I did not want to stop taking them. They gave me moments of “somewhat normal” where I did not feel as if I was going to lose my mind from severe (like in my bones) itching and pain.
The problem was that the moments of “somewhat normal” were getting shorter and the meds less effective, while the symptoms accelerated.
I began to seriously suspect that the prescription cornucopeia was not all it was cracked up to be when:
- I discovered that Clobetasol (brand name Clobex), the steroid ointment and solution that I had been slathering all over my scalp, neck, torso, and arms, was particularly hazardous to the endocrine system. Clobetasol is classified as a “Class 1” steroid, meaning it’s super potent and is the strongest prescription you can get outside of a clinical administration setting. It had been prescribed by a physician for his diagnosis of folliculitis, which “manifests with crops of pustules that result in permanent scarring.” It was the closest explanation I’d gotten so far for what was going on, and by this time I was grasping for anything that would make the nightmare stop.
The package insert (for the brand name Clobex) states that too much “passing through your skin can cause your adrenal glands to stop working.” I was never advised of potential damage to my endocrine system (affecting internal hormones, metabolism, and other body systems), and I was using MULTIPLE forms of Clobetasol, over a period of months, which is considered to be an extended period of time.
Other potential side effects of Clobetasol include skin atrophy, hypopigmentation, telangiectasis (chronic dilation of the capillaries and other small blood vessels), and striae (narrow ridges in the skin).
There was no heads up from the prescribing physician.
There is a name for disease when caused by the course of medical treatment. It’s called iatrogenic, or doctor-induced disease. In other words, the “cure” is worse than the disease. Iatrogenic deaths are now the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States of America!
Further evidence that the prescription cornucopeia was less than satisfactory:
- The only way I could sleep (and get away from the symptoms) was to knock myself out with a pill. And each morning, for years (even after I stopped taking all the prescription drugs), I had to fight my way awake. Often it would take hours for me to get out of bed.
- After each round of steroids, the next flare up was significantly worse. By worse I mean more severe, lasting longer, with shorter duration of “recovery” periods between flare ups.
- One of my doctors kept repeatedly asking me if I was using a “hot-comb” in my hair (to explain why all my hair was falling out). He asked multiple times, and each time I answered “no” he raised his eyebrows at me with a skeptical look. Either somebody mistakenly told him all black people use hot combs, or he was looking for a reason why he wasn’t equipped to help me.
- A specialist finally suggested I take Risperdal, a primarily anti-psychotic medication, because it would help me to NOT FEEL ANYTHING. And I had actually fired the previous specialist to see this Risperdal guy.
- I never got a diagnosis that made sense – or a treatment that didn’t just attempt to suppress the symptoms I was experiencing - from any of the doctors who treated me. Eventually I learned that it really didn’t matter what the disease was called, as long as I could address the causes of the symptoms, rather than just treating the symptoms one by one as if my body were some kind of mechanical device.
Let me say here that although I was extremely frustrated that these doctors could not help me, I do not blame them. For the most part, I think they were actually a little frightened that they didn’t know what was going on, yet were medically responsible for me. The fact that my deteriorating health was treated primarily as a dermatologic problem, without association to the systemic toxicity, swelling, and limited digestive function of my body, reflects a growing need for healthcare professionals who understand and practice whole body medicine.
The Day I Knew These Meds Would Kill Me
And that brings me to the day I understood that these meds would kill me. I was kneeling in the doorway of my bathroom, waiting for the tub to fill. The water was now the only place for me to be where I felt any relief, however temporary. By this time my entire face, neck, and upper body was covered in what I can only describe as hardened, black scaly flakes. It was disgusting and f@*&%!g scary as heck. Here’s what my neck looked like when a flare up was on it’s way to unbearable:
Although a part of me is embarrassed to show you these photos (and they’re not the worst!), I’m doing it anyway, because it’s important to understand that the health, joy, and beauty I have today came after ugliness, sickness, and despair. Regardless of your current state of health, if you want lasting health and wellness, it is going to come from nurturing from the inside, not from any temporary solution that can be prescribed.
In my case, stopping the steroids would mean that I would have to experience the full blown effect of whatever the hell this was, but I knew I wouldn’t survive the consequences if I opted for the temporary relief of another steroid dose pack. It would be a
It was in the process of fully embracing my decision to do without the prescription drugs that I found what I call my “golden well”. For me, it was the source of resolve I found within myself when it seemed that no one in my local medical community could help me. Another word for it is “faith”, because trusting that this nightmare was going to come to an end was certainly a belief in sights unseen.
In next week’s blog I will share with you how I began to reclaim my health. Hopefully someone reading this will be helped by my experiences, including my mistakes. One thing I know for sure: pursuing my health through natural means is the reason I’m alive today.
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- Dannelle LeBlanc